One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest By Ken Kesey

1345 Words6 Pages

Movie vs. Book Analysis Ken Kesey’s portrayal of needed mental health reform was bolstered in the 1970s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The fictional lives of these patients in the psychiatric ward allowed insight into the misconceptions held surrounding mental health. Further, it exposed the shortcomings of authority in relation to the patients. Although both iterations of Kesey’s influential work highlighted the individualistic qualities of those on the ward, the film and novel greatly differed in regard to the perspective the story was told. Kesey expressed in his novel the events from the Chief's eyes, the mysterious and often misconstrued patient. However, in the film, the plot of events was largely portrayed by Randal …show more content…

Additionally, with the role of McMurphy being played by a well-known actor, it encouraged the idea that those labeled as “insane” or “mentally ill”, were being wrongly viewed. Essentially, although the characters in the novel were largely similar to those portrayed in the film, the focus on McMurphy allowed viewers to observe Chief’s transformations from an outsider's perspective, giving a broader and more accurate depiction of who Chief really is. In both the visual and written versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, there were uncanny parallels between the characters depicted on screen and on text. More specifically, this is seen through personas such as Billy Bibbitt and Dale Harding. In both iterations, Bibbitt is depicted as a shy patient, seemingly much younger than the rest of the patients on the ward. His admission stemmed largely from his fear of the outside world, with the overbearing power of his mother, infiltrating every aspect of his life. His tendency for submission is overshadowed by Nurse Ratched’s close relationship with Bibbitt’s mother. Although the novel outlines this series of …show more content…

With the novel encompassing the journey of Chief, and the unfolding of events through his perspective, the film focused on McMurphy’s influence on the ward. Although both versions exposed the inefficiency of these mental institutions, I think telling the story through McMurphy was more impactful in capturing the extent and cruelty put forth by the institution. More specifically, in the novel, the details put forth by Chief were deflated and mundane. His depiction of the events on the ward was told through a lens that had been mistreated and misconstrued for an extensive period of time. This seemed to mitigate the actual behaviors demonstrated by other patients and the extent to which their condition was. A recurring theme throughout the novel is the presence of the fog, and how it encapsulated not only the way Chief thought but how he acted and lived. This fog heavily influenced Chief’s emotional perspective of his peers and even himself, shown when he states, “And the more I think about nothing can be helped, the faster the fog rolls in” (Kesey 65). This emphasizes not only the clouded state perpetuating the main character’s perspective but the lack of emotional range from Chief. On the contrary, in the film, there was a noticeable difference in emotional expression and satisfaction from the patients. There was a greater presence of laughter and conversation

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